EURO 2016: Northern Ireland’s Gareth McAuley in focus

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley takes on Germany's Sami Khedira

Northern Ireland's Gareth McAuley takes on Germany's Sami Khedira

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Northern Ireland somehow emerged from a backs-to-the-wall display against Germany with nothing more damaging than a 1-0 defeat.

Here, Rory Dollard assesses the contribution of defender Gareth McAuley against the world champions.

ORGANISATION

As the biggest and most vocal character in the back four, McAuley had responsibility for shaping the back line - particularly with two natural centre-halves (Jonny Evans and Aaron Hughes) at full-back.

But Germany were simply too clever around the area and McAuley could not prevent them cutting through time and again.

In spite of not having his finest day he never shirked his duties, rallying his team-mates and sucking up the endless chances that poured in.

PRESENCE

Left his mark on Toni Kroos early in the game, conceding a foul but making the midfielder fully aware he was in a physical contest.

Looked more at home dealing with the conventional stylings of Mario Gomez but was a step off when the likes of Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller targeted him.

The quick, unpredictable movement of the German schemers appeared to spook him a little and took some of the wind from his sails.

Lifted by loud support from the Green and White Army.

ATTACKING THREAT

Usually a menace in the opposition penalty box, and a goalscorer against Ukraine, but Northern Ireland’s lack of set-piece action restricted his influence in the German area.

He was the target for the first corner - which arrived as late as the 41st minute - but Oliver Norwood could not find him.

At one stage he carried the ball from defence, skipping past three challenges and crossing the halfway line on a forward expedition that surprised nobody as much as himself.